This year’s BBQ & Fly In on the River will feature a $10,000 firework show, a chance for locals to judge a competition and a local favorite band entertaining the crowd on Friday evening.
The festival begins Aug. 16 and continues through Saturday, Aug. 17 in downtown Excelsior Springs.
Lyndsey Baxter, executive director of the Downtown Excelsior Partnership, said while this will be DEP’s first year running the event, they hope to continue the traditions that created such a great competition. She said the previous committee continually got feedback from the competitors.
“So I think that is something that the previous committee should be super proud of and we’re really lucky that several of them have stayed on board to work with us this year to make sure it’s the seamless transition and I hope they decide they want to stay for more than one year,” she said.
The barbeque competition draws teams from all over the United States. Baxter said she doesn’t think most of the Excelsior Springs residents realized the level of competition at the festival.
As a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event, competitors can earn major points, allowing them to go on to more competitions. Excelsior draws several teams who currently rank in the top 100 barbeque teams in the nation. According to information provided by Baxter, this year’s competition will feature Getting’ Basted from Branson, the team currently ranked No. 4 in the nation.
Other top 100 teams planning to compete include, No. 5 ranked Slaps BBQ, No. 7 ranked 4 Legs Up BBQ, No. 16 ranked Man Meat BBQ, No. 24 ranked Dirt Road BBQ, No. 35 ranked Tebo Creek BBQ, No. 55 ranked 913 BBQ, No. 79 ranked Fat & Dumb BBQ and No. 84 ranked Smilin’ Dragon BBQ.
Baxter said she realizes the frustration with festival goes not being able to sample the barbeque. Because of rules and regulations from the Clay County Health Department, competitors will not be able to sell their barbeque this year as well. However, Baxter said they added two new competitions to get the community involved.
Community members can purchase raffle tickets at visitexcelsior.com/index.php/annual-events/bbq-on-the-river/ for a chance to win an opportunity to judge a steak competition Friday evening and a bloody mary competition on Saturday morning.
“We know it’s not what everybody hoped for and it’s not getting to sample all of the barbeque, but we’re hoping that it’s something and it’ll add a little bit more of fun and flavor,” she said.
Baxter will go live on Facebook on Aug. 13 to announce the 12 winners to judge the steak competition and the six judges for the bloody may competition. The video will be broadcast on the BBQ & Fly In on the River’s Facebook page at facebook.com/BBQOnTheRiver/ and also DEP’s Facebook page at facebook.com/downtownesmo/. Winners will also be announced on The Standard’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ExcelsiorSpringsStandard/. Baxter said winners will then have 24 hours to contact her to confirm.
Keith Sisk of Valley Oaks Steak Company plans to donate ribeye steaks to for the competition, Baxter said.
Friday evening will also play host for hours of entertainment as well. From 5:30-6:30 p.m., Liberty Blue will play at the Hall of Waters, followed by the headliner, local favorite, J.D. and the Chasers.
“(J.D. and the Chasers) have just recently started some new songs and are launching their very first album,” Baxter said. “We’re really excited to showcase them.”
Marie Mawby, singer of J.D. and the Chasers said the band, also composed of lead guitar and singer Jacob Duncan, bassist Robert Mawby and drummer Matt Curtis, will play music designed to keep the crowd moving.
“We do just about everything to keep people moving. So, we do a little bit of rock, we do a little bit of country, we do some funk … we even have some rat pack jazz stuff in there,” she said.
During the concert, the audience can expect a high energy performance. If the band does not have fun, she said, they know the audience will not have fun.
The band members grew up together, Mawby said, and love playing in their hometown.
“Anytime that we can play in our hometown, it means the world to us,” she said. “This is where we started, this is where our following is. Hometown gigs are a plus.”
The community should also be on the lookout for the band’s new CD, due out in the fall.
Baxter said the band will play from 7-11 p.m. at the Hall of Waters.
Also on Friday evening, the festival will host a $10,000 firework show, which Baxter said will be a phenomenal show for the community. It will begin at 10 p.m.
Also featured on Friday evening will be a beer and wine garden and food vendors the committee currently works to confirm.
Saturday morning will not only host the bloody mary contest but the actual barbeque festival as well. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m.
Baxter said there will be the usual $5 admission charge that will serve as admission to hear all the wonderful entertainment the festival will offer.
Baxter said she wanted to thank the festival’s sponsors. They couldn’t do any of this without them, she said.
Platinum sponsors include Pepsi, Treehouse Foods, Westlake Hardware, Shamrock Farms, The Excelsior Springs Standard, Dolt Construction, Wabash BBQ, ConAg Auctions, Atlas Saloon Brewery.
Valley Oaks Steak Company and Republic Services.
Gold sponsors include The Elms Hotel and Spa, Broadway Bar and Grill, Champion Windows of Kansas City and Topeka, Mobile, Rite Way Auto, Bob’s Collision, Excelsior Springs Family Dentistry, EZ Quick Lube, El Maguey and Ray’s Diner.
Bronze sponsors include Bross & Spidle Funeral Home, American Family Insurance – Josh Thomas, Ambiance Salon and Dari-B Drive-In.
Baxter said she hopes the community will come out to enjoy the festival.